The Enchanting Breath of Heaven Plant

A Fragrant Delight for the Senses

In the realm of gardening, fragrance holds a special place. It not only perfumes the air and attracts pollinators but also evokes nostalgic memories. While flowers are often associated with delightful aromas, the Breath of Heaven plant, scientifically known as Coleonema pulchellum, proves that foliage can be equally fragrant and heavenly.

I vividly recall the first time I introduced my son to this enchanting plant. I urged him to gently brush his hand across the soft wispy stems and take in its scent. With a dreamy smile, he asked, “Is this what heaven smells like?” It was a profound question, one that left me hoping that it might just be true.

To delve deeper into the wonders of this heavenly shrub, read on:

Coleonema pulchellum's petite pink flowers can bloom from late winter through fall.
Above: Coleonema pulchellum’s petite pink flowers can bloom from late winter through fall. Photograph by Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia.

A South African Gem

Originating from South Africa, Coleonema is an evergreen shrub that reaches a height of four to six feet with a spread of approximately five feet. Its fresh-smelling, needle-like leaves give off a delightful aroma, while the slender branches bear tiny starry pink flowers. The blooming spectacle begins in late winter and can continue all the way through fall.

A Magenta Breath of Heaven via Monrovia.
Above: A Magenta Breath of Heaven. Photograph via Monrovia.

Versatile Beauty for Every Garden

What truly sets this attractive shrub apart is its ability to provide year-round interest and structure with minimal maintenance and water requirements. Additionally, it is not a preferred choice for hungry deer, making it a resilient choice for gardens that contend with wildlife. Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Coleonema effortlessly blends with various plant styles, whether a cottage garden adorned with frilly blooms or a modern landscape featuring sturdy succulents.

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Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' is $16 for a 5-gallon pot at Ricardo's Nursery.
Above: Coleonema pulchellum ‘Sunset Gold’ is $16 for a 5-gallon pot at Ricardo’s Nursery.

There are several Coleonema varieties to suit diverse garden needs. For compact spaces, a smaller form only grows two to three feet tall and four to six feet wide. For those seeking a splash of vibrant color, ‘Sunset Gold’ displays bright chartreuse foliage accompanied by the same delicate ballet slipper pink flowers. This variety reaches a height of two to four feet and spreads four to six feet. Lastly, the equally charming white flowering species, Coleonema album, grows four to five feet tall and creates an airy cloud-like effect when in bloom.

Unlock Its Full Potential

Gardening 101: Pink Breath of Heaven
Above: The shrub attracts bees. Photograph by Tracie Hall via Flickr.

To ensure your Breath of Heaven plant thrives, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Plant it in full sun, although partial shade can also suffice, albeit with a slightly looser appearance.
  • Opt for well-draining soil to avoid heavy clay, which the plant dislikes.
  • While establishing itself, provide regular water, but it can withstand periods of drought once mature.
  • After flowering, typically in late summer, prune the shrub lightly to maintain its shape and size.
  • Pro Tip: Avoid severe pruning or cutting into old wood, as Coleonema does not readily recover from harsh treatment. Instead, if rejuvenation is required, it is better to remove the mature plant and replace it with a smaller one.

The Breath of Heaven plant, with its captivating fragrance and visual appeal, is a garden gem that will leave you enraptured. Whether nestled in a coastal garden, dotted along pathways, or enhancing various garden styles, its charm knows no bounds.

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So why not experience a touch of heaven in your own garden? Discover the enchanting Breath of Heaven at Ames Farm Center.